America and Indian race — страница 15

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legal and political rights of the Indian tribes is found in the opinions of Chief Justice John Marshall, notably in decision in the case of Worcester v. Georgia: The Indian nations had always been considered as distinct, independent, political communities, retaining their original natural rights, as the undisputed possessors of the land, from time immemorial. . . . The settled doctrine of the law of nations is, that a weaker power does not surrender its independence - its right to self-government - by associating with a stronger, and taking its protection. A weak state, in order to provide for its safety, may place itself under the protection of one more powerful, without stripping itself of the right of government, and ceasing to be a state.The first major departure from the

policy of respecting Indian rights came with the Indian Removal Act of 1830. For the first time the United States resorted to coercion, particularly in the cases of the Cherokee and Seminole tribes, as a means of securing compliance. The Removal Act was not in itself coercive, since it authorized the president only to negotiate with tribes east of the Mississippi on a basis of payment for their lands; it called for improvements in the east and a grant of land west of the river, to which perpetual title would be attached. In carrying out the law, however, resistance was met with military force. In the decade following, almost the entire population of perhaps 100,000 Indians was moved westward. The episode moved Alexis de Tocqueville to remark in 1831: The Europeans continued to

surround [the Indians] on every side, and to confine them within narrower limits . . . and the Indians have been ruined by a competition which they had not the means of sustaining. They were isolated in their own country, and their race only constituted a little colony of troublesome strangers in the midst of a numerous and dominant people. The territory west of the Mississippi, it turned out, was not so remote as had been supposed. The discovery of gold in California (1848) started a new sequence of treaties, designed to extinguish Indian title to lands lying in the path of the overland routes to the Pacific. The sudden surge of thousands of wagon trains through the last of the Indian country and the consequent slaughtering of prairie and mountain game that provided subsistence

for the Indians brought on the most serious Indian wars the country had experienced. For three decades, beginning in the 1850s, raids and sporadic pitched fighting took place up and down the western Plains, highlighted by such incidents as the Custer massacre by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians (1876), the Nez Perce chief Joseph's running battle in 1877 against superior U.S. army forces, and the Chiricahua Geronimo's long duel with authorities in the Southwest, resulting in his capture and imprisonment in 1886. Toward the close of that period, the Ghost Dance religion, arising out of the dream revelations of a young Paiute Indian, Wovoka, promised the Indians a return to the old life and reunion with their departed kinsmen. The songs and ceremonies born of this revelation swept across

the northern Plains. The movement came to an abrupt end December 29, 1890, at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota. Believing that the Ghost Dance was disturbing an uneasy peace, government agents moved to arrest ringleaders. Sitting Bull was killed (December 15) while being taken into custody, and two weeks later units of the U.S. 7th Cavalry at Wounded Knee massacred more than 200 men, women, and children who had already agreed to return to their homes. A further major shift of policy had occurred in 1871 after congressional discussions lasting several years. U.S. presidents, with the advice and consent of the Senate, had continued to make treaties with the Indian tribes and commit the United States to the payment of sums of money. The House of Representatives protested, since a

number of congressmen had come to the view that treaties with Indian tribes were an absurdity (a view earlier held by Andrew Jackson). The Senate yielded, and the act of March 3, 1871, declared that "hereafter no Indian nation or tribe" would be recognized "as an independent power with whom the United States may contract by treaty." Indian affairs were brought under the legislative control of the Congress to an extent that had not been attempted previously. Tribal authority with respect to criminal offenses committed by members within the tribe was reduced to the extent that murder and other major crimes were placed under the jurisdiction of the federal courts. The most radical undertaking of the new legislative policy was the Dawes General Allotment Act of